50 Fun Facts About Every State in America

Flickr user Loïc Lagarde
Flickr user Loïc Lagarde

America may be "the beautiful," but the country has a pretty interesting history as well. From the mother who convinced her senator son to vote for women's suffrage to why women back in the day really liked the invention of that yellow yield sign, these facts about the United States will keep you singing from sea to shining sea.

01
Alabama
Flicker user faungg's photos

Alabama

"Sweet Home Alabama" was inspired by Lynyrd Skynyrd and his band’s impressions of Alabama. It also was the first Skynyrd song to use female backup singers. The band never met the three women who sang, however, since they were recorded separately.

02
Alaska
Flickr user Brooke Binkowski

Alaska

Actress Irene Bedard is from Anchorage. She was the voice of Disney's Pocahontas and starred in the movie Smoke Signals.

03
Arizona
Flickr user Randy Lemoine

Arizona

Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice. She grew up on a ranch in Arizona. When she graduated from Stanford Law School, most law firms would not hire her because she is a woman.

04
Arkansas
Flickr user Luke Cureton

Arkansas

Diamonds were first discovered in Arkansas by John W. Huddleston in 1906. Now the site is known as Crater of Diamonds State Park. Arkansas also has the only active diamond mine in the states. People can even mine for their own diamonds. Bachelorette party, anyone?

05
California
Flickr user Giuseppe Milo

California

Castroville has the honor of being the artichoke capital of the world. In 1947, a woman named Norma Jean was crowned Castroville's first Artichoke Queen — she's now more well known by the name Marilyn Monroe.

06
Colorado
Flickr user Zach Dischner

Colorado

Colorado is nicknamed the Centennial State because it became a state in the year 1876, 100 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

07
Connecticut
Flickr user Up David Bergin Emmett and Elliott

Connecticut

Pez candy is made in the city of Orange. The candy was originally invented in Vienna, Austria, in 1927 to be a breath mint.

08
Delaware
Flickr user Bob Mical

Delaware

Elementary school children lobbied for the ladybug to become the state insect. It was adopted by the legislature on April 25, 1974.

09
Florida
Flickr user KatVitulano Photos

Florida

Orlando, Florida is home to many magical places for kids and their families. However, since 1986, Give Kids the World Village has been a place of "happiness and laughter" where children with a life-threatening illness, and their families, can take an all inclusive, wish-filled, week vacation. It's a time for both kids and adults to forget about treatments, surgeries, and medical bills. As one little girl said, her favorite part about the resort is that "no one stares." Going to Orlando soon? Check out how you can volunteer with Give Kids the World.

10
Georgia
Flickr user Martin Lopatka

Georgia

In 1945, Georgia became the first state in the United States to lower the legal voting age from 21 to 18.

11
Hawaii
Flickr user mail_collector

Hawaii

The Big Island's growing by more than 42 acres every year due to eruptions from the Kilauea volcano. Mauna Loa, one of the world's largest volcanoes, is on the Big Island as well. Astronauts once trained for moon voyages by walking on its hardened lava fields, and recently, six NASA-funded researchers spent months on the northern slope (pictured here!) simulating a Mars space station.

12
Idaho
Flickr user Loren Kerns

Idaho

Women's basketball is a very big deal here! It's an extremely popular sport in the state, and games draw big crowds.

13
Illinois
Flickr user Roman Boed

Illinois

Illinois was the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery in 1865.

15
Iowa
Flickr user Chris Heald

Iowa

In Iowa, married women received property rights in 1851. A few years later, in 1869, the state's Supreme Court ruled that women should be allowed to practice law. Iowan Arabella Mansfield was the first female lawyer in the country.

16
Kansas
Flickr user Lane Pearman

Kansas

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s novel Little House on the Prairie and Truman Capote’s true crime story In Cold Blood are famous books set in Kansas.

17
Kentucky
Flickr user US Forest Service - Southern Region

Kentucky

Kentucky is home to moonbeams. In Cumberland Falls on the Cumberland River, you can see a moonbeam, which is a ray of light from — you guessed it — the moon.

18
Louisiana
Flickr user finchlake2000

Louisiana

Tabasco sauce was created post-Civil War, when Edmund McIlhenny of Avery Island began fermenting his red pepper plants to make a spicy sauce.

19
Maine
Flickr user Paul VanDerWerf

Maine

The coast of Maine has enough deep harbors to "provide anchorage for all the Navy fleets in the world."

20
Maryland
Flickr user Nicolas Raymond

Maryland

In addition to being the birthplace of Harriet Tubman, the first Ouija board was also invented in Baltimore. Creator Elijah Bond and medium Helen Peters asked the “talking board” what it wanted to be called, and according to them, the board said: “O-U-I-J-A.”

22
Michigan
Flickr user Bryan Debus

Michigan

In 1847, Michigan became the first state in the United States as well as the first English-speaking government in the world to abolish the death penalty.

23
Minnesota
Flickr user Randen Pederson

Minnesota

The country's first open-heart surgery and the first bone marrow transplant in the US were performed at the University of Minnesota.

24
Mississippi
Flickr user jessdamen

Mississippi

The blues originated in the Mississippi Delta after the Civil War. According to the History Channel, this genre of music is rooted in the songs sung by slaves working in the fields and African spirituals. The blues "offered an escape from oppression and a means of expression for many African Americans."

25
Missouri
Flickr user DanielSTL

Missouri

Missourian Susan Elizabeth Blow started America’s first kindergarten.

26
Montana
Flickr user Ryan McKee

Montana

Montana is the only state in the United States whose constitution recognizes the cultural heritage of the American Indians and is committed to the preservation of their cultural integrity.

27
Nebraska
Flickr user John Blacker

Nebraska

The 911 emergency system was developed and first used in Lincoln.

29
New Hampshire
Flickr user Ron Reiring

New Hampshire

Captain John Smith named New Hampshire after the town of Hampshire, England.

30
New Jersey
Flickr user Forsaken Fotos

New Jersey

Modern paleontology, the science of studying dinosaur fossils, began in 1858 with the discovery of the first nearly complete skeleton of a dinosaur in Haddonfield.

31
New Mexico
Flickr user John Fowler

New Mexico

New Mexico is the only state in the US that allows non-English-speaking jurors to serve on a jury, providing an interpreter for any juror who needs one.

32
New York
Flickr user Joel Feenstra

New York

In 1901, New York was the first state to require license plates on automobiles. The license plates were not issued by the state; car owners were required to make them with their initials printed on them.

33
North Carolina
Flickr user Richard Ricciardi

North Carolina

Pepsi was invented in New Bern in 1898.

34
North Dakota
Flickr user Darla دارلا Hueske

North Dakota

North Dakota joined the Union on Nov. 2, 1889. North Dakota had been part of the Dakota Territory, so South Dakota also joined the Union the same day as North Dakota. President Harrison had the papers shuffled so no one would know which Dakota was signed into the Union first, but North Dakota is technically known as the 39th state to enter the Union since it alphabetically comes before South Dakota.

35
Ohio
Flickr user Carlos Javier

Ohio

Victoria C. Woodhull, who actually might be the most interesting woman in the world, was a magazine publisher and women’s rights advocate born in Homer. She was the first woman to run for president in 1872. She campaigned on a platform of “women’s suffrage, regulation of monopolies, nationalization of railroads, an eight-hour workday, direct taxation, abolition of the death penalty and welfare for the poor, among other things.” Famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass was selected as her running mate. He never acknowledged it, however, and in fact campaigned for Republican Ulysses S. Grant. Victoria and her sister, Tennessee, were also the first female stock brokers on Wall Street. They moved to New York City in 1868. Both sisters began working as “clairvoyants for the railroad baron Cornelius Vanderbilt.” Tennessee apparently became Vanderbilt’s lover and, supposedly, learned some secrets of the stock market. During the 1869 gold panic, the sisters claimed to have netted around $700,000.

36
Oklahoma
Flickr user Jonathan C. Wheeler

Oklahoma

Clinton Riggs designed the yield sign. It was first used on a trial basis in Tulsa in 1950. Back then, the signs looked a little different than they do today. The yellow signs were shaped like a keystone with black letters stating, “yield right of way.” It was during his time as a trooper that Riggs conceived the idea of the “yield” sign, and he began developing it while attending Chicago’s Northwestern Traffic Institute in 1939. His goal was a sign that "would not only control traffic at an intersection but would also attach liability in a collision if one driver failed to yield." Women were grateful for the signs, as some women were apparently afraid to come to a full stop at night, so a yield sign helped them feel safe from roadside prowlers.

37
Oregon
Flickr user Don Whitaker

Oregon

Matt Groening, the creator of the Simpsons — the longest running American sitcom — is from Portland, and the show is set in the fictional town of Springfield in Oregon.

38
Pennsylvania
Flickr user Nicolas Raymond

Pennsylvania

The Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers merged to form the Steagles for one season in 1943. The teams merged because both lost so many players to military service during WWII.

39
Rhode Island
Flickr user m01229

Rhode Island

Sideburns were named after the politician, businessman, and Union Army General Ambrose Burnside, who wore the unusual facial hair style with “mutton chop” sideburns connected to a mustache while keeping his chin shaved.

40
South Carolina
Flickr user Jeff Gunn

South Carolina

Nickelodeon's popular '90s show Gullah Gullah Island starred Ron and Natalie Daise, who also served as the cultural advisers. The show highlights the culture and language of the Gullah people. The show was taped and recorded at Nickelodeon Studios in Orlando at Universal Studios Florida in the same studio as Clarissa Explains It All. Outdoor shots featured Beaufort and Fripp Island. Charleston was featured in one episode when the family took a trip to the City Market.

41
South Dakota
Flickr user Len Saltiel

South Dakota

The creation of Mount Rushmore — or the "Shrine of Democracy" — was started in 1927 by sculptor Gutzon Borglum and took 14 years and $1 million to complete. The faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln are carved into the work.

42
Tennessee
Flickr user Phil Horton

Tennessee

Thanks to a senator taking his mother’s advice, Harry Burn extended the right to vote to the women of America after generations of campaigning from suffragists like Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, and Lucy Burns. Burn defended his decision, saying that "We all know that a mother’s advice is always safest for her boy to follow . . . and my mother wanted me to vote for ratification.”

43
Texas
Flickr user Dave Wilson

Texas

There is a dialect of German only spoken in Texas by descendants of German immigrants who settled in Texas in the mid-19th century.

44
Utah
Flickr user Anthony Quintano

Utah

Places in Utah that sell alcohol have "Zion curtains," partitions that divide bartenders from the customers. Their purpose is "to prevent excessive drinking by keeping alcohol out of sight."

45
Vermont
Flickr user Céline Colin

Vermont

Ben & Jerry's gives its leftover ice cream to farmers who feed it to their hogs.

46
Virginia
Flickr user Mehul Antani

Virginia

Theme parks rule the academic calendar in Virginia. In 1986, lobbyists tried to increase the state tourism industry by passing a bill that prohibited public schools in the state from opening before Labor Day. This was supposed to ensure that kids would never have to choose between homework and roller coasters before the first Monday of September.

47
Washington
Flickr user Anupam_ts

Washington

Washington is the only state with a perfect gender ratio. There is a 50-50 balance between men and women. Women make up 50.8 percent of the total US population. The states with the highest percentage of males are all located in the West.

48
West Virginia
Flickr user bobistraveling

West Virginia

The first US federal prison just for women opened in 1926 in West Virginia.

49
Wisconsin
Flickr user Randen Pederson

Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Legislature passed the first equal rights bill in the nation, granting women full equality with men under civil law. (Unfortunately, issues with the law/interpretation of the law made it essentially meaningless for women at the time).

50
Wyoming
Flickr user Kamal Hamid

Wyoming

In 1869, the Wyoming Territory passed a bill that gave women the right to vote. Other Western territories quickly followed, such as the Utah Territory in 1870 and Washington Territory in 1883. By 1914, all of the states west of the Rockies had women’s suffrage, while no state did east of the Rockies, except Kansas.